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April 20, 2010

Myth #3 -- Are we myth-ing the boat when it comes to communication?

Here’s the last myth -- talking is communication.  However, as we know, just because you’re talking doesn’t mean you’re communicating. We all know someone who can talk for hours without saying very much.

There are four critical components or “musts” that help distinguish communicating from talking.

No. 1 Must  – Understand your audience.  You must adjust your message to best match your audience.  You can’t just share data.  That is the difference between a bookkeeper printing out financial reports and handing them over to you, and a controller or CFO interpreting the data into critical information that’s relevant and helps guide decisions.

No. 2 Must  Engage the listener.  Get their respect, interest, and attention.  Make it seem as if you are talking to them, not just to anyone.  Use empathy to convey sincerity.

No. 3 Must  – Be truthful and direct.  You have to have respect for people to get them to buy in to your communications, and have to maintain respect through the integrity of your communications and through the consistency of your words and actions.

One issue that comes up with the idea of being truthful and direct is the issue of confidentiality and of what is and isn’t appropriate to share with different groups or different people.  As a leader, you have a duty to keep some things confidential, always or for a while. An example of this is when layoffs are coming, and leadership is working on it but it isn’t time to tell the company or team yet.

No. 4 Must – Plan your method for communicating.  Email is not the best way to communicate.  Try face to face, in person; ‘live’ is best when communication is about a tough issue or is a tough message.  And you can’t ‘wing it.”  The Nike slogan, “Just do it” doesn’t apply here.  You need to be purposeful, which takes planning.

Which of the “musts” could significantly help you improve your communication effectiveness?



- David Grossman

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